Friday, July 31, 2009

Episode 312: These Soles Were Made For Walking (Not!)

I finished another collection of Chad Oliver's short stories, Far From This Earth, and they were really, really good. The anthropological thread that runs through most of them imparts a different flavour to the science fiction. Today, I told Shirley that human beings are probably the only species on Earth in which stupidity is tolerated, and even rewarded. She agreed. If you don't think about it too much, it does have a glibly persuasive ring to it, and I can't really be bothered to be contrary and suggest counterexamples. Having finished that book, I've now started on Toh Hsien Min's poetry collections. (Yes, he's on the list of local poets whom I genuinely admire.) As for the title of my post, let's just say that this has to be one of the funnier reasons for not turning up for Alpha on a Friday evening. I made it as far as Northpoint before realising that the soles of both my shoes were coming off, and it was too late to go home, change my shoes and still make it down in time for the session, so I just gave up and wandered around the library for a bit. Bumped into my mum and Natalie, so I ended up having dinner at Swensen's. Just one of those random things.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Episode 311: Aerin's & Raffles Creamery

Met up with some of the MOE scholars from my batch for lunch at Aerin's. There was a 1-for-1 offer going on, so the meal was rather affordable, still a key concern for me these days. Dessert was ice-cream at Raffles Creamery, tucked away inside Raffles Hotel. It's got some novelty flavours like Singapore Sling sherbet, but price-wise, I'd definitely still go for Venezia. The service was a bit lacking as well. I spent a couple of hours in the National Library after that, just browsing. I did eventually pick up Tomas Tranströmer's The Great Enigma, among other things, including a book translated from German by Michael Hulse, Alexander Kluge's The Devil's Blind Spot. Have liked what I've read so far very much, so I might go so far as dropping him an e-mail about it. I've also developed a newfound respect for the amount of poetry that's actually stocked, considering it's highly unlikely that many library users go there to pick up poetry by John Ashbery or Paul Celan. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of collections published by Carcanet on the shelves, and wondered why I'd never noticed them before. Why do Borders and Kinokuniya not stock anything from Carcanet? It seems a bit of a travesty, now that I think about it. I mean, if the National Library managed to find it, surely booksellers can as well?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Episode 310: I Baked A Cake!

Today, I baked my first cake. It was flavoured with cinnamon and honey, a very simple recipe really. It turned out well though! My mum agrees. This is the start of bigger things, mark my words. Before you know it, I'll be a master chef. Haha! Have just revamped the contents of my iPod, rediscovering in the process some music that I'd forgotten I even had. I really need to get myself an iPod Classic that can hold my entire iTunes library! This exercise of picking and choosing what goes into my iPod is, admittedly, not very useful, since I tend to listen to a particular album a lot for a couple of days, then switch to something else. I like having options though, that's the thing. Have also begun watching the short-lived New Amsterdam, and yet again, I find myself lamenting how screwed up Fox is as a television network. These days, it really is all about advertising dollars and the bottom line, huh? Virtuality, coincidentally also staring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from New Amsterdam, is a prime example of how Fox just can't get things right. So another perfectly adequate premise bites the dust, simply because Americans want more of trash like American Idol and The Amazing Race. I swear reality TV has killed off meaningful programming.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Episode 309: Joss Whedon, I Salute You

Have watched the unaired pilot of Dollhouse. Despite Alex's protestations, I still really like this show and I'm glad it hasn't been cancelled. Yet. What I don't get is why the pilot was supposedly too confusing to the test audiences it was screened for. I hate to say this, but is the average American even lazier than I thought? I know we call the television the 'idiot box', but the pilot's plot is hardly rocket science. Besides, if you could peg the show right from the pilot, why would you want to carry on watching? The unaired bonus episode, 'Epitaph One', is brilliant, although I can't imagine how Joss Whedon is going to get to that dystopian 2019 before the network pulls the plug on the series. Haha! My theory is that the pilot was asking too many difficult questions and not delivering the pat answers Americans seem to take such great comfort in. Oh well. Anyway, I've copied over the contents of Eugene Chan's external hard drive, so I'm more or less done. Just need to find a couple more shows, which will take a week (but it's nothing urgent), rip his Six Feet Under DVDs for him, and I'll be done. Have also found some new music today, including solo work by Switch 22 member, Stefan D'Bart, flaunting a grittier image than in his duo project, now apparently on hiatus despite being signed to Universal. The tunes straddle the boundary between radio- and club-friendly quite nicely. Also had the chance to listen to a few Steve Appleton tracks, and I think this is one album that I might be getting. It's like acoustic electronica, if that even makes sense. The music itself sounds relentlessly happy, which is bound to put some people off, but I can deal with that. So along with his debut, I'm eagerly anticipating that of FrankMusik as well as the sophomore Sleepthief album, which if the first single, 'World Gone Crazy', is anything to go by, is going to be amazing. On a side note, O2 is the second UK mobile network to provide two-way service on Twitter! Perhaps more of my friends will get into it now?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Episode 308: Feedback Session

I've begun restoring the contents of my external hard drive! I know, exciting times. This is pretty much going to be my focus for the next couple of days. Am going to try to replace some AVI files I have with versions in 16:9 resolution, and then I will pretty much be done with this whole business. Yay! Fortunately, the hard drive crash happened during summer vacation, so I've got plenty of time to spend on restoring/adding stuff. The feedback session in the morning was a bit weird. I know it was meant to be informal, but giving us half an hour discuss our attachment experiences among ourselves in four huge groups was possibly one of the stranger ways of trying to get feedback. Was a bit disappointed by the tea break. The chocolate éclairs weren't as good as the ones I had during my attachment. Haha! I was thinking though, that instead of a live forum, we could have an e-forum, which would allow more questions to be posed and provide for greater flexibility in replying, since whoever was supposed to be taking questions could reply to them at their leisure, and only the people interested in getting replies would need to attend an e-forum. Seems like a win-win to me!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Episode 307: The 48 Laws Of Power

Have had my eye on this book for a while, and since it was going for 20% off at the books warehouse sale, I decided to get myself a copy. Why? Well, partly because I think it's an interesting read, especially with all the historical anecdotes, partly because some of the laws are things I (un)consciously practise anyway, and even if I'm not bent on manipulating other people, it is useful to know when I am being manipulated. It sounds terrible, but it really isn't. Law 45, in particular, seems to be the mantra of the government here, and it actually makes a lot of common sense. Will get back to reading the book after I've finished with all my library books. It was the only book I bought at the sale, unlike the two Eugenes, who spent about $100 between the two of them. Was going to get myself a load of Teach Yourself books, but then I decided that it made more sense to borrow them from the library. Save my money for things that I really want! Was listening to some Planetshakers songs today, and just when I was thinking that it was the older songs that sounded better, along came a couple of tracks that proved the Planetshakers band can still come up with something that sounds fresh. Overall though, still not a really big fan of their sound. I am very close to restoring my entire TV show collection, at least in terms of what Eugene Chan's hard drive doesn't have. So by this time tomorrow, I should really be 95% of the way to completion. Just missing Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, both of which are the largest to reacquire in terms of file size.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Episode 306: Lazy Days Are Here Again...

Singing practice was cancelled due to insufficient numbers, so I got to sleep in this morning. It was fantastic! I've just spent most of the day reading A Star Above It and watching various shows, which has been an awesome way to pass the time. I'm meant to start running regularly from Tuesday onwards, but knowing me, I'm probably going to put it off, again and again, and before you know it, it'll be time to fly back to the UK and I won't have done a spot of exercise all summer. I really want to though; I just don't have enough motivation. Am also going to get back in full swing learning Spanish. Have been looking at Open Studies courses for 09/10, and there are a couple of tempting options, like Archaeology and Philosophical Studies. Am not sure if I'm so keen on the language courses now, unless Chernise is still up for Arabic. It's having to learn a new writing script that puts me off, as I was explaining to Shirley. Otherwise, I would gladly venture into things like Greek. At the moment, if I'm not doing Arabic, I'm thinking of Turkish. We'll see how things go when I get back to university...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Episode 305: School Attachment Day 14

So it's finally over, and with it, the routine that's governed the past three weeks of my life. It's been an eye-opening experience, both in terms of seeing how a school is run, as well as how people react to the school environment, whether as staff or as students. Having been at NVSS for the past couple of weeks, I can honestly say that my previous conception of the school has been overturned. I sincerely wish everyone there the best, especially the students about to take their 'N' and 'O' Levels. Maybe it's just me, but I get used to things very quickly, so having to show up in school from Monday to Friday was less of a chore than it might seem. Especially towards the end, I got to do a lot of reading, for which my fellow scholars mercilessly teased me. Hey, it's not my fault if I managed to finish all my work earlier! Anyway, started reading the first volume of Chad Oliver's selected stories, A Star Above It, and so far, I'm really liking it. It's science fiction, but with an anthropological and cultural slant that really appeals to me. I have a thing for alternate histories and projected futures, simply because what-might-have-been and what-might-yet-be are concepts that I find genuinely fascinating. Where have we come from as a species, and where are we going? Some of the answers Oliver's stories provide give me pause, and I like how his future societies aren't all cybernetic nightmares, although those can be interesting reads nonetheless. I managed to finish more than half the book in about five hours, which is pretty impressive, given how I proved totally incapable of reading the vast majority of my course texts during the past academic year!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Episode 304: School Attachment Day 13

Finished the Palmer collection, and am still none the wiser about what the poems mean. They remain, nevertheless, beautiful. I would still prefer to read stuff that I can sort of identify with though, like the work that was read out by the guest poets during the Alumni Day. Now that was cracking stuff I could engage with. Also began re-reading Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, which is one of those rare books I wish I had written. Honestly, I would learn Italian just to be able to read it in the original language. Demonstrating how perceptions can change, however, this re-reading has led me to conclude that while I still find the book exquisitely wrought, there is also a profoundly disquieting quality to the descriptions of the cities. If you're wondering why I've suddenly been able to get so much reading done, it's because this past few days have been light, schedule-wise. I've even found the time to write one of those poems that's just been lingering at the back of my mind ever since I got back. I'm really kind of biding my time till Friday. Would love to just crash when I get off work then and sleep till Saturday afternoon, but I've got to go for Alpha because I already agreed to sing weeks ago. Might have a class gathering though, so might end up leaving after the songs, or at the very latest, the sharing. Ça dépend...

Et il me faut continuer d'apprendre l'espagnol et l'italien! The course validity is only till late September! I've realised that Rosetta courses are actually identical regardless of language though, so to do basic rote-style learning isn't impossible without the images. Just download the pdf files for your particular course and study them alongside the equivalent files from the English course. It's a lazy way of designing a product, but I doubt Rosetta is really aiming for native fluency, despite its claims to help people acquire a given language the way its native speaker would. There was an article in the newspapers about how children acquire languages with much greater facility when they're younger, with the ability diminishing sharply after puberty. In that light, I think MOELC probably needs to start lessons from a younger age, if they want students to actually pick up a third language. The high rate of attrition at MOELC is proof enough of the difficulty students face in learning a third language in their teenage years.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Episode 303: School Attachment Day 12

Taught my final lesson of this attachment! It does get easier the more you do it, although I wouldn't dare to claim I'm good at it now. I managed to finish reading my book on mitochondria, but only because it was due today and I can't afford to pay renewal fees. Still, it was an interesting read, and I'm pretty sure now that if I didn't like books as much as I do, I would probably have ended up as a scientific researcher instead of a literature teacher. So reading the occasional popular science book is my way of keeping abreast of developments in the various fields of science that still fascinate me. Moved on from that book to Michael Palmer's The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972-1995. I find most of the poems so far beautifully incomprehensible. If this were a course text, I would probably throw my hands up in despair, but since it's not, I'm just enjoying the baffling turns of phrase scattered liberally through Palmer's work. Bought my new external hard drive, which it turns out I had to anyway, since I'm supposed to send in the power adapter with the drive, and my other adapter is in the UK. So I'll spend the next week or so after the attachment ends sorting out this mess. Best part of the day was meeting Claudia and Vaish for dinner at Central, and then drinks afterward at Timbre@The Arts House with the latter's Berkeley friends. All this going out is taxing my finances though...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Episode 302: School Attachment Day 11

Have elected not to proceed with data recovery, so I've begun the process of rebuilding my collection of TV shows. Didn't bring my laptop to school today for that reason! I will be buying a third external hard drive, since this one, assuming it's covered under warranty, won't be coming back in time for me to load shows onto it. My parents, naturally, are frowning on this decision, but I really think the current situation is untenable, so that's what I'm going to do. Possibly tomorrow, before I meet Claudia and Vaish for dinner. Was supposed to go for Oliver's birthday surprise, but it suddenly occurred to me that Kallang is very, very far away from Yishun, and at least during my attachment, I've been trying to get a minimum of six hours of sleep. So I'm really sorry, Oliver, but happy birthday anyway! School was okay, despite my not having prepared very thoroughly for today's lesson. I was essentially winging it, but it was okay, since my mentor wanted to do something during the second half of the lesson anyway. I'm going to repeat the same lesson tomorrow, with slight modifications, so that it takes up more time. Two days more to go!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Episode 301: School Attachment Day 10

Class today was okay, and we even got off work much earlier than usual. Just to prove that life has a way of balancing things though, disaster struck in the evening! I accidentally kicked one of my external hard drives onto the floor, and even though it was just a distance of about one foot, the hard drive is now dead. I could send it for data recovery, but given that the majority of the shows I lost either reside on Eugene Chan's hard drive or in my stacks of DVD-Rs, it seems more sensible to just send it in under warranty and slowly reacquire the 'missing' shows. Shall sleep on it and make up my mind tomorrow, since I can only go down to the post office on Wednesday evening. Most of the shows that are going to be hard to find, they aren't exactly high on my must-watch list anyway. In retrospect, it's so fortunate that I gave Eugene so many of my shows! Otherwise, I'd probably gun for data recovery, price be damned. Hopefully, the warranty will cover getting a new hard drive. If not, I'll have to buy a new one, and this after assuring my mum that I probably won't have to buy one till next year. Oh, the irony! I clearly jinxed myself with that pronouncement.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Episode 300: I've Never Actually Seen A Kaleidoscope

I think I'm starting to get bored of the CSI franchise. Currently, I watch two episodes back-to-back on Sunday afternoons before church, but more often than not, I find myself switching off or not paying full attention to the episodes. I can't say why exactly, although having so many other shows to choose from does play a part. I think the franchise is long overdue for a city addition! I kind of wasn't paying attention to the first half of today's sermon because I was making notes on Daren Shiau's 'Kaleidoscopes' for tomorrow's lesson. I think it's an intriguing poem, perhaps a bit too challenging for lower secondary students, at least in terms of getting them to appreciate the figurative level of the poem. Shall just have to do my best tomorrow! I think I've analysed the poem pretty well, but I know communicating that analysis is going to be an uphill climb. Shirley, I still don't understand why you need so many pages just to plan for a single lesson though. I would just go crazy within a month. Just one more week to freedom for the rest of summer vacation!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Episode 299: WIG 6!

Not quite sure how this ended up being WIG 6, but perhaps it's just a case of me being slightly anti-social and not turning up for most WIGs. Anyway, I went down to Jonathan's house with a couple of the SYC 2 people after Music Network, since I had plenty of time to kill anyway. Finally saw Step Up in its entirety, which has somewhat inspired me to get into dancing. Told Samantha that, so now she's trying to recruit me to be one of the musical's dancers. I replied that she'd have to teach me everything from scratch, although I suppose among the other soon-to-be-ex-freshers, I couldn't ask for better teachers than Marc and Samantha. We had dinner at Blue Mountain Cafe in Illuma, which is a rather unremarkable shopping centre, if you ask me. It looks really tacky on the outside and doesn't grab the eye on the inside. The food at Blue Mountain Cafe was actually pretty good though, so I thought the dinner set meal was pretty worth it. We decided to end off the night with durians, so we headed to one of the nearby roadside stalls. Stood around the tables because there weren't enough chairs, but the company made up for it. Am dead tired now though, which is partly the accumulated effects of the entire week. I can't imagine how I'm going to survive teaching full-time...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Episode 298: School Attachment Day 9

So my first experience of actually teaching a lesson went slightly better than anticipated. At times, it felt like I was talking to a brick wall though. I was consciously making myself slow down and use simpler words, but still, quite a few students seemed completely oblivious to me. There were a few who were almost always ready with an answer, and now I can understand the temptation for a teacher to play favourites and only call on these students. It just makes your life so much easier! I tried to get other people to speak up though, even though the boy who constantly volunteered an answer (he even raised his hand!) was pretty on the mark. Didn't show the clip from the film in the end because I was missing the cable that hooks up the audio, so I had to drag out the writing activity. Am going to mark their diary entries over the weekend. My mentor just said to give them a mark out of 10, so I'm wondering if I can get away with not correcting grammar, etc. If I do, practically all of them will have every other sentence underlined. Plus it seems a bit self-contradictory to expect a diary entry to have impeccable grammar and choice vocabulary, since it is kind of your personal expression and you should be free to write however you want. On the other hand, I'm not a fan of blogs whose writers cannot articulate themselves well in writing. Oh dear. Caught in a bit of a bind, aren't I?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Episode 297: School Attachment Day 8

Having come up with nine strategies, I've given up racking my brains for a tenth. Am just going to tie up loose ends, and then it's on to the Powerpoint for tomorrow's presentation. I haven't done the PowerPoint for my lesson, but that's just going to be some pictures and instructions for the writing activity I want the students to do. I'm quite pleased with my plan for tomorrow's lesson. I'm going to start off with getting the students to read the diary entry. Thank goodness they're studying The Diary Of Anne Frank, something I've actually read and liked. Then I'm going to get to talk a bit about the text in general, before getting them to imagine that they're in Anne Frank's position, keeping a diary while in hiding. I'm going to ask them to imagine they're living during the time of the Japanese Occupation, and then write an entry. My mentor said she'll give them some coloured paper, so that it'll be an activity they can put more effort into. I'm just going to surprise the students by showing them a snippet of the 1959 film version at the end of the lesson. Haha!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episode 296: School Attachment Day 7

Am literally at the halfway mark of my attachment! Arrived slightly late this morning because I hadn't counted on the staff meeting starting so early. Anyway, I've managed to type out one additional strategy, and for a change, I'm going to work on this report further while I'm at home, at least once I've sorted out the ripping of DVDs. Thought I had it figured out, but AutoGK wasn't properly recognising the PGC chains I'd blanked out using VobBlanker, which meant that any episode other than the first one on the disc had problems syncing audio and video. So now I'm using DVD Shrink to re-author the discs, before sending them through AutoGK. It looks like it's going to work, so once I've got that set up, I'll turn to my report. Shall aim to finish it by tonight, and then I can spend the whole of tomorrow working on the PowerPoint and my lesson plan for Friday. I'm secretly hoping that Monday's lesson is also supposed to cover the same content, then I can just replicate the lesson. Otherwise, I'm going to have to spend the weekend planning it! As it is, I'm already questioning whether meeting Yee Hung to go over the script tomorrow evening is a good idea. Sigh...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Episode 295: School Attachment Day 6

Randomly, I began this entry in the morning at 10.39 am, and I'm continuing it at 10.39 pm. Spooky, huh? So the torrent I was downloading before yesterday's switch has now stalled and I don't think there's any hope of getting it to work again. I give up. So Eugene Chan, I am ripping your DVDs instead. Will experiment until I get what I want. The torrent's contents weren't the quality I was hoping for anyway, apart from one season. Honestly, how hard can it be to make 350 MB AVI files, with a resolution of 624 x 352? I suspect that I've been spending my time trying to solve a 'problem' with my Internet connection that didn't exist. Sigh. Am still very certain that SingTel mio is a lot less stable than my previous broadband connection, so I'm still not impressed. If only my dad hadn't switched from SingNet Broadband to mio Home, at least the situation would still be salvageable. Now, I guess we're stuck with a crappy, temperamental connection. All this after I mentioned how Eng Fa once told me and a bunch of friends not to sign up for mio TV. I am impressed that I've figured out how to open ports for my torrent client though. Doesn't seem to help because the one I downloaded to test is lumbering along at a ridiculously slow speed. Oh well. I'm just going to give up and sleep now. School was fine today, but I was sort of feeling grumpy inside, so I didn't get a lot of work done. The chat with the Senior Teachers was good though, one of the best things that's happened so far during my attachment.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Episode 294: School Attachment Day 5

So I finally had my first lesson observation today. It was okay, didn't actually have to do anything apart from sit at the back of the classroom. Didn't manage to make much headway with my report, apart from re-reading everything that I've written before. Will try harder tomorrow! Got back home and that's when the day started taking a turn for the worse. Some guy was setting up the mio TV service, and that was kind of not going well. I managed to get the wireless connection up and running, but now I couldn't download any torrents, thanks to the inbuilt firewall of the 2Wire integrated modem/router. Tried my best to fix the problem, but I've given up hope, so tomorrow, after I get back from school, I'm connecting the old modem and router back. None of this 2Wire crap for me! So because of this, I ended up being late for dinner with Vaish and the guys at Gokul. Inconsiderate people at the MRT station did not help matters, and I was properly ticked off by the time I boarded the train. Dinner itself was fine and a good reminder of how easy it is to slip back into some friendships. I like Indian food!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Episode 293: Where Did My Weekend Go?

Seems like the handphone was fine, but the extension plug in my room isn't. I somehow feel like the weekend's just passed me by, and I haven't done much in that time. I was just telling Shirley that I've been weighing the pros and cons of getting a job after my attachment ends, and I kind of feel like if I get a job, I won't end up having much of a vacation. After all, it's not like I actually need the money, despite moaning about my finances in yesterday's entry. Any money that I earn from work would go towards spending on things that I could survive without, but then there's the thought of needing to find money to finance any trips that I want to take in 09/10. So I'm still very much in two minds about the whole matter. Ideally, I would do some relief teaching at some JC, since that would pay decently and I wouldn't have to expend too much effort for it. There's also the option of going back to High Achievers, which I almost certainly will, but that won't address my financial woes because the pay cycle means that any money from that would only be coming in after I've left Singapore. Argh. Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Episode 292: Musical Meeting

Went down to church for singing practice, and then to the SMU Concourse for the musical meeting. My handphone was acting up, rapidly draining its battery for reasons that I couldn't fathom. So I was basically stuck, with no way of contacting anyone. Went in the wrong direction at first, and only found the others when I doubled back. Good discussion, but I'm too sleepy to act on anything that was covered. Most of us ended up having dinner at ThaiExpress. I had crab! Was going to get a drink, but felt that would have been too indulgent, so I didn't. I wasn't even tempted by the clothes in Raffles City, which is a sign of how dismal my financial situation is at the moment. It is very upsetting that the Great Singapore Sale is still on but I have yet to purchase anything. I suppose one must be prepared to make sacrifices if one has plans like New York for a month over Easter vacation. Thing is, I don't actually need new clothes, but I can't help feeling like I'm missing out on something. Maybe I'll pop into Ted Baker and indulge myself with some shirts. Or trousers. Parents went shopping this evening, but I couldn't join them because I didn't know where they were (because my handphone wasn't workined). There goes my chance...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Episode 291: School Attachment Day 4

Just got back from the Alpha dinner and I'm really sleepy. Went to bed slightly earlier than I have for the past couple of nights, yet I woke up feeling more tired and have continued to feel sleepier than usual all day. It's been a struggle to get any work done while in school. I looked at the clock at 9.30 am, and I was literally thinking, Can I last another seven hours? How am I going to manage living like this when it becomes an actual full-time job in less than five years? At least I managed to type out a few more strategies, so I did manage to get some additional work done before the weekend. Not going to have as much time once I'm swamped with lesson observations and teaching. Have heard what happened at the end of yesterday's episode of Torchwood, and much as I want to get all emotional about my favourite character, I think I'm going to save it for tomorrow, when I can get the final episode and watch both at one go. All I can say is that Thursday's episode was either stupidly brave writing, or a brilliantly shrewd ploy to boost the ratings.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Episode 290: School Attachment Day 3

Have begun typing out my project report. I've decided that going all the way and including citations is a bit crazy, so I'm just going to toss everything that I've read into a bibliography at the end. I've got some pretty good strategies, although I'm not sure whether all of them can be successfully implemented. Admittedly, that's not under my purview; I'm just here to suggest what can be done, not what necessarily will be done. The ease with which I employ academese is a bit disturbing though. When I re-read what I've typed, it's pretty obvious to me that a lot of it is deliberately saying things in a way that sounds more intelligent. I'm not necessarily obfuscating, but the clarity that I'm aiming for isn't of the sort that's for mass consumption either. Occupational hazard, perhaps, of someone who deals in words for a living? By the way, I don't think I've raved about the new series of Torchwood yet. It's bloody brilliant. Who cares if the plot's tacky and overused? It beats watching someone proclaim on national television that she's the 'Asian Avril Lavigne'. That, in case you don't live in Singapore, was what some girl auditioning for Singapore Idol claimed. Without being unnecessarily harsh and judgemental, suffice it to say that I don't have much hope that she's going to live up to her claim. Frankly, if you're the Asian Avril Lavigne, I'm the Asian David Archuleta.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Episode 289: School Attachment Day 2

Just finished writing the dialogue for the four scenes that I'm scripting, so that's one piece of work out of the way. Will probably start typing out my report for the project tomorrow, during working hours. Going to be busy the next two weeks with lesson observations and teaching a couple of lessons! That's going to feel, well, kind of weird. Although to be fair, you'd think that at the age of 22, I'd have reconciled myself to the notion that I ought not to be so apprehensive about standing up in front of a classroom of people literally a few years shy of being just half my age, but no, apparently not. The irony is that on some level, I do enjoy interacting with students from neighbourhood schools. That much I've learnt about myself from working at High Achievers. They're somehow just more genuine in their responses. It's just that they can come off as aggressive because they don't mince their words, and because I'm naturally conflict-averse, I don't know how to handle them. Well, I guess it'll be a good learning experience. Randomly, I still can't get over how cheap food in the canteen is! I haven't had food at such prices since I was in primary school. Also, finally finished reading Edwin Thumboo's Still Travelling. This was after reading Bring The Sun, a selection of his earlier work, last week. I didn't really enjoy either, to be perfectly honest. I can't put my finger on it, just didn't. Oh well. There's always Alfian Sa'at.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Episode 288: School Attachment Day 1

First day of attachment went by without a hitch, apart from the fact that I came back feeling sleepy like I haven't felt since I was in JC. Should attempt to sleep by midnight tonight, I guess? Being in a neighbourhood school isn't that much of a culture shock, at least not after my short stint as a facilitator with High Achievers. Some things on the schedule today got cancelled because of H1N1, but other than that, it was a really easy first day. Mostly just meeting with senior management and walking around the school campus. I guess having been a student all my life until now, it's quite interesting to be on the other side of things for a change, even if it's just tiny glimpses so far. Spoke to my mentor about the project that I'm supposed to do, and I've just gone online to do my research, which is basically done, I think. A lot of it is just background information anyway, since the idea is to come up with some strategies to implement. Tempted to bring my laptop to school tomorrow, but I've got something downloading at the moment, so probably not. Am going to do both a report and a PowerPoint presentation, which I could actually finish way before the end of the attachment. First though, I've got to start scripting the dialogue for the musical, and finish by Saturday...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Episode 287: (Sort Of) Last Day Of Freedom For A While

Met Yee Hung to discuss the script for the musical. We've managed to hammer out a rough idea of what it's going to look like, so now we're coming up with the first draft. I've got four scenes to write, which is less than it sounds because dialogue isn't the focus. Came back and frittered away my last few hours of relative freedom doing nothing much of note. Well, I did finally print out the attendance sheet for the attachment. That's right. I'm going to find out what it's like to have a regular job tomorrow, even if I won't exactly be taking on the full responsibility of a teacher for the next three weeks. In the interests of discretion, you probably won't find me saying much about it here. Unless it's really good stuff that's been happening. Did a bit of cursory research for my project, nothing heavy because I don't know what exactly I'm supposed to be producing. Will find out more soon obviously, but I find the lack of knowledge and certainty very disconcerting. I hope my shirt makes a good first impression tomorrow. After all, that's what I bought it for all those months ago...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Episode 286: Busy Sunday...

Dad drove me to Causeway Point to collect my N95. Now all I need is some money so that I can buy the N97 myself, since my dad won't. Went over to the library after that to get a couple of books. Am going to re-read Alfian Sa'at's two collections because I liked them, especially A History Of Amnesia. Was also pleasantly surprised to see that the NLB does stock books from Carcanet, in this case, Michael Palmer's The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems, 1972-1995, so I borrowed that, as well as Invisible Cities, my favourite book by Italo Calvino, my copy of which currently resides in a box somewhere in the UK. Sigh. The impetus to read has died down somewhat as my attachment approaches. Headed down to City Hall to meet some of the MOE people to hang out, and I had the chance to take the Circle Line. Nothing great, just reminded me of the North-East Line. We went to J.Co because SingTel subscribers can get two free doughnuts when they purchase a freeze beverage. The promotion's until July 15! Headed down to church after that. I thought the skit by the YE was quite good. The weather, on the other hand, was not. I still made it on time to the musical meeting though!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Episode 285: Reading Library Books

Finished reading Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields before I went to get a haircut. Its subject matter helps to give it a topical relevance in the Information Age, as well as give it an appeal beyond your run-of-the-mill thriller novel. Basically, MDT-48 is a fictitious designer drug that enhances cognitive function. You know how everyone's always going on about how we only use a fraction of our brain? Well, MDT-48 allows you to tap into all of the rest, and in an age when we're constantly bombarded by data and information, it would be the perfect drug of choice. Why get high when you can get rich? That's exactly what the protagonist of the novel does, although inevitably, it all comes crashing down. That part of the book works well, but the actual denouement is less palatable. The hints that MDT-48 is more widely entrenched in the society of the novel are tantalising, and this is a novel that could easily make the transition to the cinema. I personally think if Glynn would allow it, a TV series could easily be made from the novel's premise, although obviously (to people who've read the novel at least), it would be unfeasible to insist on following the plot of the novel to the letter. Perhaps as a pilot? Or related movie? I'm now reading Power, Sex, Suicide, which is a popular science book about mitochondria, I kid you not. Just completed the introduction, and my curiosity about where Nick Lane's going to go with the rest of the book is piqued. After I'm done with that, it's time for some local poetry. I've decided that I should read some Edwin Thumboo, who once declared, 'When it comes to Singaporean Literature in English I am your footnote.' For a man whose work has been described as Yeatsian, I suppose it is a fair claim, although personally, I have never been particularly fond of local literature as a whole. There are exceptions, more than you would think, but they are exceptions nonetheless, not the rule. If that makes me a literary snob, so be it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Episode 284: Laura And Luke In Singapore!

So I've realised that I do actually kind of like Paul Baloche. Have been listening to some of his more recent songs, and realising that the production doesn't sound as dated as I had thought it would. Pleasantly surprised by that. So Laura and Luke slept in my room last night, while I had the leather couch in the living room. It was somewhat stuffy, but manageable. They headed off to Bugis after breakfast, while I stayed at home and pottered about for a couple of hours. Met them for dinner in Orchard, where Ben Woon and I brought them to Food Republic at Wisma Atria. (So glad that underpass is finally open again!) The place was surprisingly not as crowded as I'd remembered it, so we found seats with little difficulty. Post-dinner, we wandered around Ngee Ann City a bit, where they were amazed at the number of floors in the shopping centre. That said, they also realised that Orchard isn't about much more other than eating and shopping. Browsed a bit in Kinokuniya, where I was tempted to replace some of my older Tolkien books with new, updated editions. May do that via Amazon UK, if I have some money left over after the first couple of months of 09/10. Had received a random call from Moses earlier, informing me there was cell this evening, so I headed to COGS for the last bit of it. Not meeting Laura and Luke again tomorrow, so I'm probably going to send my handphone in for repair then.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Episode 283: The Bus Ride Costs What?!

Spent my time transferring more shows for Eugene Chan onto the external hard drive I bought for him. Maybe I shouldn't have informed him that I'd updated my list of shows. Anyway, that's all done now, so I just need to find a time to pass it to him. I will do it on Sunday, if I go for the food thing that Steffi's organising, which depends on whether I'm getting my handphone repaired before service or not. If I am, then I can't go, but if I'm not, then I can make it down for a while before heading to church. Anyway, I went down to the airport to pick up Laura and Luke, since I had nothing much to do. Their flight arrived on time, but their baggage took ages to come out! Took me a while to spot them, but even after I did, I had to wait about another 10 minutes before they came out. Not impressed. Changi's supposed to be better than that! I would also like to register my shock at how much bus fares have gone up, at least when one pays by cash. It cost $1.90 to get from the airport to Yishun on 858, but it then cost another $1 to take 804, which is just a feeder service, for crying out loud. It's positively criminal. Why, I remember when it used to cost about half that amount! To think I was happy about coming back to the comparative efficiency of the Singaporean public transport network. Not impressed. Not one bit.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Episode 282: Encountering Bad Designs

Headed out to pick up an external hard drive for Eugene Chan, and I'm transferring shows to it right now. Also made a detour on the way home to the library to pick up some books, where I soon discovered that the layout of the new library at Northpoint is actually quite lousy. It's not possible to walk from the adult section to the borrowing stations without passing all the way through the kids section. Talk about a bad design. Then there's the escalators in the Northpoint extension. They've got shoeprints on them, presumably to remind people to stand fully on the steps. The problem I've got with that is that there are two pairs of shoeprints on each step, and they both point the same way. Now this clearly makes no sense because the direction in which escalators travel is periodically reversed, so half the time, you have shoeprints that are pointing the wrong way. Clearly, a more sensible option would have been to paint them facing in alternate directions, with the pair on the left pointing in the direction of travel. This way, at least one pair is always pointing in the 'right' direction, and having the left pair follow the motion of the escalator might remind people that in Singapore, it's polite to keep to the left if you're not walking on the escalator. You shouldn't be walking on the escalator anyway, but you never know when someone else might be in too much of a hurry.

Since I'm bitching about stuff in this entry, let me take the opportunity to rant about Fox for a while. I'm starting to realise that this television network keeps cancelling shows that I would actually want to watch, specifically, shows with a science fiction angle. Examples are numerous: Dark Angel, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Tru Calling. To these, we can add Dollhouse, a show that should have done better, but which Fox has managed to screw up anyway, although thankfully, it's been renewed for another season. Fringe is perhaps the only series that Fox has managed not to ruin, although that might have more to do with its association with J. J. Abrams, whose Lost is still something of a ratings success for ABC. To Fox's long line of missteps, add Virtuality. What was meant to be the pilot episode for a series got turned into a movie with hardly any promotion, so is it surprising it was a ratings flop? It's a shame, as in reality, Virtuality had the potential for at least one season. There were enough unanswered questions set up, although killing off your main character and resurrecting him in a VR setting is not really a smart move. It could be, if this were the first episode of a 13-episode season. Here, it just feels ridiculous. I know television networks are all about demographics and ratings, but honestly, American television programming is starting to feel a bit stale and self-derivative. Anyone who actually wants to see another season of American Idol is clearly in need of a life.